City, county, and CCPRD to meet regarding new trails map


Concerns about the map were raised during a recent Prineville City Council meeting

by: JASON CHANEY - Among the concerns raised by City Councilor Steve Uffelman regarding the trail map, is that a proposed trail along the Crooked River would force pedestrians to walk in the backyards of Meadow Lakes Drive residents.

The City of Prineville is close to passing its transportation systems plan (TSP), but local pedestrian and bike trails plans will require more work.

Initially, foot and bicycle paths were included in the City's TSP, but during a Prineville City Council review of the document last month, Councilor Steve Uffelman found fault with some of the forecasted trails.

"As I look at the detail of the trails, it appears that at least one, if not several, of the trails are assuming foot traffic across private property," he said. "I feel that those kinds of details need to be addressed."

Uffelman noted that one of the proposed paths would follow the Crooked River behind homes in the Meadow Lakes subdivision. He concluded that because of the steep riverbanks in the area, pedestrians would have no choice but to walk into the backyards of area residents.

“I think it is highly inappropriate for us to make the assumption that we are going to approve a plan . . . that sets up that type of conflict.”

Recently departed City Planning Director Scott Edelman explained that the trail map came from the Crook County Parks and Recreation District’s master plan, which the City adopted by reference when they updated their comprehensive plan in 2007.

As it turns out, the conflict raised concerns among the Crook County planning staff as well.

“When we reviewed the update on the TSP, one of the comments that we asked the staff to do was take away all of the references to any bike paths or any trail system that was outside the city limits,” said Crook County Planning Director Bill Zelenka.

Zelenka went on to explain that the parks and recreation district never brought their trail map before the county to adopt. Therefore the county cannot require improvements that are part of the parks and recreation master plan if it is not part of the county comprehensive plan.

Given the concerns, the city council chose to table the TSP discussion until city, county, and parks and recreation district officials could meet and iron everything out. Those plans later changed when it became clear the issue would take several months to resolve. Now, the TSP review will move forward with the trails map listed as a visionary plan only, and trail discussions will take place at a later date, independent of TSP approval.

“We really can’t hold up the TSP process that long,” Edelman said, “based on funding and ODOT’s (Oregon Department of Transportation) expectations from the funding that they are providing for it.”

In the near future, city, county, and parks and recreation leaders plan to meet and begin development of a map that not only eliminates conflicts, but creates a more efficient process for acting on trail plans.

Jeannie Searcy, Parks and Recreation District Business Manager, explained that the trail map on their master plan, which they adopted in 2006, was only a vision and left them no authority to follow through on the plans without city or county approval. If all three entities adopt a new map, it makes it easier for the district to garner the city or county approval necessary to proceed with trail projects.

“We are all going to get together and start working on an actual trail system that the county, city, parks and recreation are all buying into,” Searcy said.